Sunday, 4 October 2009

Distraction over Interruption in Social Media (Great Apes)

I'm reading Great Apes at the moment by Will Self and came across this ricochet or crossover point (if you wish) in the text of Mark Earls IPA social big picture draft. 

Mark writes: 

Sociolinguists use the term “phatic” to describe the relational value created by what therefore amounts to the inarticulate ‘grunting and stroking’ involved in this kind of communication : they seem to be a way of keeping communications lines open and relationships alive. Being the Super Social Primate species that we are, we do this kind of thing naturally and gleefully: without prompting, huge numbers of us Brits have taken to texting over the last decade - from zero to 5BN+ texts a month in the UK alone (to put it in perspective £7.8m of donations to Comic Relief this year via short text code). And we do the same with the likes of Facebook and Twitter, to create an even steeper adoption curve. Indeed, the UK beat the US by a few months to the critical point where social media overtook pornography in terms of Internet usage.

Will Self writes:

But perhaps most significant of all is the human attitude to touch. It is this that appears so acutely inchimp. Humans, because of their lack of protective coat, have not evolved the complex rituals of grooming and touch that so define Chimpanzee social organisation and gesticulation. Imagine not being groomed! It is almost unthinkable to a chimpanzee that a significant portion of the day should not be given over to this most cohering and sensual of activities. Undoubtedly it is this lack of grooming that renders human sexuality so bizarre to us.

So where does marketing fit into this picture? Is coitus interruptus the new 'money shot' for interruptive marketing communications or as I've written else where but not elaborated on, is there now a need to explore deeper and further all the dimensions of distraction over interruption? I've got some ideas for this.

One of my main complaints with one of the recent Facebook facelifts is that within the Facebook environment I find it too 'busy' for want of a better word. The distraction quotient was too high and that's not factoring in the interruptive element of the built in messenger service where it's entirely possible to be hijacked from an interruptive experience to a distractive one (or vice versa) and forget completely about the original content immersion (say reading the mail or catching up on all your photos (yes you lot).

I think it's this we need to investigate further and realistically there should be only one aperture for either interruptive or distractive (the two can have a overlapping qualities depending on what preceeded the experience being processed). So there you have it... and I'm way too experienced in telling the truth (you can't handle it folks) to spill the beans where I picked up this thinking on the net but I'll tell you to your face if you ask.

As a more interesting, and humanist aside Will Self informs us (seriously or not I don't know but I do know enough cat and dog lovers to give this thought serious credence). He writes, once again in the Authors Note:

It may even transpire that the behaviours (British spelling) of domesticated humans which reinforce this theory are in fact dependent on some form of morphic, resonant association with wild populations. Wipe out the wild humans and even the domesticated ones who have learnt to sign (some humans have a lexicon of five hundred or more ES signs) may fall motionless. Gesticulation between our two species will be at an end*.

I find that fascinating and it may further explain our enduring fascination with Zoos. 

In any case should the gesticulation across our species with each other, 'fall motionless' our nobility (as a species) is eroded no doubt when we losing opportunities to pet, pat, stroke or even yell melodramatic vulgarities at our favourite pets (a dog say) over spilt milk. We know that personal insult to Canines are never really embraced in the same way as canine does to homo sapien when say compared to harsh exchanges between two humans where the sensitivity is markedly more sensitive and infinitely more long lasting. Without this gesticulation across the species what will we resort to when feeling our way around the subject of venting steam? Are we diminished by throttling every other species around us with which we interact through unfettered capitalism? Are the Chimps more important that we've ever suspected?

...anyway I appear to have been distracted both you and myself by this point. I apologise for that.

* Will Self plays around interchangeably with humans and chimps when reinforcing our genetic proximity.

Update: I've coincidentally stumbled across these two terrific related articles in Fast Forward written by my friend Rob Patterson who is well worth adding to your RSS feeds.